Correctional Officer Job Market Trends

The correctional officer job market is one of the biggest, and toughest in the world. To give some idea of the size and scope of this sector, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the US correctional officers and local jails deal with admissions for 13 million people per year. 800,000 people are actually incarcerated in local jails, and 1.6 million are in State and Federal prisons.

People to fill correctional officer jobs are therefore in constant demand. There are currently about half a million jobs classified as correctional officer jobs.  Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate a steady increase in jobs over the coming decade at about 9 per cent per year.

Correctional Officer Job Market Macro Trends

The employment market for correctional officer jobs is changing on several fronts. Technology, budgets, and the impacts of court decisions are the driving forces of change in correctional officer job roles and practices. These factors are improving the job environment to some extent, but are also sometimes related to controversial issues within the profession.

Some issues have major effects on employment, like workplace safety, for example, which is an ongoing industry issue in correctional officer jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officer jobs have one of the highest rates of  non-fatal injuries.

Employment conditions are another factor which is affecting correctional officer job design and turnover in jobs. The correctional officer job market isn’t a consistent area of employment. Wages, conditions, and types of work vary considerably. Some jobs are particularly tough.

This is not a simple or straightforward employment market. Most correctional officers achieve career progression through organizational promotions and qualifications. Theoretically, there is significant job mobility within the sector, but although there is fairly high turnover of staff in some areas, major career progression can be slow.

Emerging Correctional Officer Job Trends

Like other areas of law enforcement, correctional officer jobs have evolved and expanded. The new systems have brought in more and different types of jobs, which have altered the career progression routes for correctional officer jobs particularly in the middle management and higher correctional officer job roles.

The different rates of change in the sector complicate the picture. Although major facilities are generally in the forefront of upgrades, other levels of the industry are definitely not. That’s created a “trend” of another kind, where some facilities lag behind, and their job and career options are therefore limited. One correctional officer job  in a basic jail may be in the 19th century and another job in a modern prison in the 21st, because of the difference in facility standards and upgrading over time.

To explain:

A good illustration of this situation can be found on the major US law enforcement site,  RealPolice.net. . If you search “correctional officer” on the RealPolice.net jobs page,  you’ll see a range of correctional officer jobs which illustrate the variable nature of these roles.

The requirements for qualifications and experience between the old and new systems are naturally very different. It also means that the career path for a correctional officer starting out at the basic jail level is a lot more demanding, and involves making up the gaps in experience and qualifications. Job market trends can impose a lot of extra mileage on the correctional officer trying to progress from a basic jail job. The compensating job market trend is understandably for specialist and advanced training, to offset this sort of disadvantage.